We are currently enjoying a fantastic yet uncharacteristic hot summer here in the UK. As we are totally unaccustomed to seeing a huge orange orb in our rather unusually blue sky many of us are struggling to keep not only our horses cool but also ourselves. We are resorting to either riding very early in the morning or late at night in order to work our horses during the cooler hours of the day. If we are unable to ride at these times, then we have raided the bottoms of our wardrobes, dusted off our sun tops or for the more toned of us, our bikini tops and are riding in temperatures more accustomed to summer holidays in the Mediterranean!
However, when we are competing wearing as little as possible simply is not acceptable. Dressage judges don't really want to see us ladies baring lots of flesh and bouncing around the dressage arena, well I'm assured they don't anyway! So how do you stay elegant and as cool as possible whilst competing during hot weather - enter the dressage waistcoat.
British Dressage in all their foresightedness has a wonderful rule allowing competitors to forego wearing a jacket but there are caveats. Firstly, NOT wearing a jacket is ALWAYS at the discretion of the judge and you must ALWAYS wear a long or short sleeved shirt and NEVER a sleeveless shirt if wishing to compete jacketless. If you, like many are of the opinion that dressage is an elegant sport and dressing in an elegant way shows the judge a more professional and stylish first impression but you feel body conscious without your jacket, are also wilting in the hot weather, then a beautiful fitted waistcoat is for you. Wearing a stylishly tailored waistcoat in a conservative colour in muted tones as per BD's requirements with a short sleeved shirt is an elegantly cooler option than a jacket. Below is the relevant section of BD rule 118 regarding no jackets:-
"In regular competitions, competitors may choose to ride without jackets. Members may choose to wear a fitted waistcoat in any conservative colour in muted tones. If no jacket is worn a suitable long/short sleeved shirt that fastens at the neck (white or cream and not bright or multi-coloured) with a tie, American collar or correctly fastened stock must be worn.
In all Championships, Regionals, Area Festivals, Premier Leagues and High Profile shows a jacket must be worn. At the discretion of the organiser in consultation with the judges, competitors may ride without coats in excessively hot weather. A fitted waistcoat may be worn when permission has been granted not to wear coats."